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2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)

 

With sales of its iconic Explorer in a slide, Ford is committing its future to crossover vehicles. And though its first effort in the emerging market segment — the Freestyle — hasn’t set any sales records, Ford hopes its new Edge will hit the market at precisely the right moment for what it hopes will be a broad-based move from truck-based SUVs to car-based crossovers. Backing its prediction are estimates that crossover sales will surpass those of traditional utes this year.

 

The basics of the Edge were outlined in a release issued by Ford this morning. Though dimensions were omitted, Ford confirms that the Edge’s powertrain will be a 250-hp V-6 engine teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission — the first use at Ford of the new joint-venture automatic it’s developing with General Motors. With that powertrain, Ford expects fuel economy in the highway cycle in the mid-twenties.

 

Though it sports a name beginning with “E” — like Ford’s truck-based SUVs — the crossover Edge isn’t intended for mudtrucking or, er, exploring. “Edge is not an off-road adventure vehicle, and it doesn’t look like one,” says Peter Horbury, executive director, North America Design. The contemporary style of the Edge and its all-weather drivetrain are geared more to users stepping down from truck-based utes into something more urbane and refined.

 

The Edge’s car-derived mechanicals include front MacPherson struts and a four-link rear suspension. Along with its newly developed powertrain, the Edge also sports available all-wheel drive (front-drive is standard).

 

Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock control come with every Edge. Safety standards also include dual front airbags. Side and curtain airbags are optional, as are stability control and Ford’s Roll Stability Control.

 

Sharing some visual cues with the swift-selling Fusion sedan, particularly on its nose, the five-seat Edge’s body is packaged around a flexible interior that marries reconfigurable seating with a modern, carlike interior. Ford cites the center console as an example of the users it designed the Edge for: the console is tall and deep enough to stow a laptop computer out of sight, and there’s an auxiliary jack for MP3 players.

 

The tall roofline endows the Edge with class-leading head and leg room for second-row passengers, Ford claims. Those seats are split 60/40 and form a level load floor. And an available front passenger seat that folds flat too allows the Edge to carry eight-foot-long cargo. The rear seats have one-hand release mechanisms; an available pushbutton release lowers the rear seatbacks to expand the cargo area.

 

Other options include a DVD-based navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. But the most impressive option promises to be the Vista Roof, a panoramic sunroof with a nearly 30-inch-square tilt-and-slide glass panel teamed with a separate 31-inch by 15-inch fixed panel above the rear seats.

 

The Edge goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2006. Stay tuned for more information on the Edge and its sibling the Lincoln MKX.

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